Tribute to Sister Margaret Held, SSSF and Paula Merrill, SCN

Saturday, May 20 started out like a normal Saturday. The St. Francis of Assisi Sisters were getting lots done in school and the convent but they reserved time to drive to Durant,MS to attend the dedication and blessing of a monument in honor of the two Sisters who had been murdered in their home in Durant in August, 2016. The sun was out and it was getting hot and humid. The trip to Durant took about 50 minutes. As things would have it sometimes, we arrived for a 2:00 pm dedication only to find out that it had been rescheduled for 3:00pm. This provided a nice chance to visit and relax as we waited. Six Sisters, members of the School Sisters of St. Francis and of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth had arrived before us. These are the communities that mourn the loss of Sisters Margaret and Paula.  The monument stood somberly covered in readiness for the ceremony.

Soon others gathered along with Fr. Greg Plata, priests and a deacon of the diocese, and Bishop Joseph Kopacz .

As we had driven into Durant we saw many buildings and homes with evidence of temporary repair due to the tornado which had hit the town just three weeks earlier.

Now as we waited, the sky began to darken.

At three o’clock all seemed to be in readiness and Fr. Greg began the service.

Soon more and more umbrellas opened up as the sprinkles grew steadier.

The Bishop, who had come from celebrating a parish Confirmation and needed to leave shortly for another Confirmation, was getting his share of this MS storm also. Thunder and lightning accompanied the strong wind and heavy downpour with no let up. The rain came at us in all directions. Everyone was getting drenched.

The service continued, and Bishop Kopacz never paused until Fr. Greg began searching for the Holy Water for the blessing. The Bishop spoke to the crowd and with a grin,  asked, “Do we really need Holy Water with all this rain?  It seems that God has provided more than enough!”

The crowd did not stay around long as all were invited to St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Lexington

 where the two Sisters served, prayed and were were a powerful presence in the Faith Community.  Mass and a fried catfish dinner followed with more sharing of the blessings these two Sisters had been to the people there.

The rain poured down as we drove back to Greenwood. Our pace was slow, but following the tail lights of the car ahead of us helped. Suddenly the tail lights became flashing alert lights and a line of red lights. There had been a bad accident ahead of us. As we waited in the pouring rain we thanked God for our safety and prayed for the victims of the accident. We returned home wet, but grateful for the many blessings of that day.

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